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How a Surf Loving Aussie Developed Sonatype’s Most Popular Extension

August 02, 2019 By Katie McCaskey

The first thing you need to know about Sonatype is this: the rumors are true.

Take Glassdoor, for example. Current and former employees praise the talent and work ethic of their peers. After all, as a distributed, self-directed team, we work hard. But we also have the freedom and diligence to pursue passions outside of work -- even some a bit extreme.

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Sales engineer and lifeguard Cameron Townshend, second from left.

To Surf or Code?

So who skips a weekend surfing Sydney’s famous shoreline to create a Sonatype Nexus Chrome extension? For fun! A no-brainer according to sales engineer and surfer Cameron Townshend.

“I thought it would be useful for a number of reasons,” says Cameron, modestly. He manages to make Python-parsing-it-up over a few hours sound as easy as getting a suntan on Bondi Beach.

“I wrote the plugin in my spare time mostly,” he says, “in hotel rooms and aeroplanes as I traveled.”

Clearly Cameron is a master of using his ‘spare time.' With his wife Carolina he has three daughters, Serena, Isabella, and Sophia. He’s also a hiking and surfing enthusiast. To top it off, he volunteers as a lifeguard at Bronte Surf Life Saving, the oldest club in the world.

(Not so fun fact: the beach he patrols is the second most dangerous in New South Wales, based on number of rescues and drownings.)

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Cameron with his daughter, Serena, and wife, Carolina, hiking in the Andes Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

His ‘why' will resonate with anyone who values efficiency.

“I wanted the enhanced Sonatype Security research available to the developer in their environment,” he explains. The extension shifts security left by enabling developers to get information on an open source component before they download it. “I did not want to have to build a whole project just to see the security issues of a single component,” he says, recalling frustrations shared by many.

“With the plugin I can see the security issues of a component without having to make a whole project to investigate a single component.”

Stoked, he shared the extension with Sonatype peers.

Cameron’s Nexus Chrome Extension Debuts

“Glassy” describes a favorable, windless surf condition. It makes the texture of the water smooth and silky. Cameron’s browser extension sailed forth with similar ease. It can evaluate open source components from all listed public registries.

Early internal feedback:

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Soon, it was live on GitHub. To date, it’s been the most popular extension for Nexus users. Feedback has been universally positive both internally, as we always dogfood our own creations, and the broader Nexus community.

Cameron credits Sonatype peers for the extension’s wide adoption and use. “It was great working with the amazing IQ product and using the powerful API’s developed by our engineers.” The extension also got a boost from people in the product and marketing teams, but mostly spread due to word-of-mouth about its usefulness.

One customer emailed to say this:

“We are constantly being challenged when a developer needs to download a component just to verify if it is vulnerable. Yet, we want to allow experimentation and not completely block [innovation]. Your plugin hit the spot.”

Cameron is currently working on versions for Firefox, Safari, and other browsers. He’s also adding support for Stack Overflow. Follow Cameron on GitHub or LinkedIn for updates.

So, to surf or to code? At Sonatype, Cameron can do both, and we all benefit.

 

 

Tags: plugin, Community Spotlight, chrome, extension, featured, Product, Employee Spotlights, Community Product

Written by Katie McCaskey

Katie is an experienced technology writer and entrepreneur. At Sonatype, she's focused on creating and finding great content.